While the Lancia Aurelia may not make it to the top of too many “classic sports cars of the 1950s” lists like its Mercedes Gullwing, Porsche 550 and Ferrari 250 contemporaries, it sure does the trick for anyone who wants to say “I have great taste in classic cars” with a whisper and not a shout.
So it was with much excitement that we took on this particular restoration job for a long-term customer of ours. Looking to build his collection, there’s no doubt that repeat customers are the best kind. Both parties know how each other work and it’s always easier once the relationship has matured past the first project.
The car was originally Sydney-delivered to the Darrell Lea family; they are well known in Australia for their chocolate making business which dated back to 1927 and still continues on to this day. Made in ’55 and delivered in ’56, all the factory options were ordered including a Nardi-made bonnet scoop, twin Nardi downdraft carbs and a body handmade by Farina, the precursor to Pininfarina. With only around 200 examples made by them before manufacturing duties were handed off to a less bespoke coachbuilder, this definitely adds to the car’s provenance.
Powered by a 2.4 litre V6 that has a direct lineage forward to the V6 in the Lancia Stratos and Ferrari Dinos, the engine configuration was at this time still very rare. Other nice features of note include a rear-mounted gearbox, telescopic front suspensions and independent rear suspension which was also super rare for cars of this era.
Lancia were also the first manufacturer to make a “unitised” or “mono” body for a passenger car, meaning that they dispensed with the body on frame approach previously used in favour of a single metal chassis that served to provide both structural rigidity and to form the body’s overall shape.
Other features include four-wheel drum brakes and a four-speed ‘box – another rarity for 1955. The car’s performance was “not fast but definitely not slow,” befitting its intended purpose as a gentleman’s GT rather than a no-holds-barred racer.
The car’s condition on arrival was found to have no previous accident damaged, however there was some corrosion damage which is to be expected for a car of this vintage. The owner made a specific request for us to add a brass (but soon to-be-chromed) bonnet scoop mold as seen below, and was based on an option available for the B24 Lancia Spyder.
As you can see, the project is now well underway, with the repair of the floorpans completed and the repair of numerous body panel and other key items that are simply no longer available. Our next step will be to complete the external skins and reassemble the car ready for paint; at this stage the owner is considering a two-tone blue body with silver roof. And as an interesting little tidbit, we also found a Farina stamp hidden in the rear body sheet metal, adding even further to the car’s impressive backstory.
Watch this space for progress reports and some final photos of this amazing vehicle. And if you have a classic car or motorcycle that you would like restored, repaired or customised, feel free to reach out to us for a chat and an appraisal.